As Pride month comes to an end, LGBTQ+ students reflect on history, significance of the celebration

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A pride flag flies in the wind. The flag features a wildcat showing the support of both communities. Passerby's cheer as they watch the Little Apple Pride Parade in 2019. (Archive photo by Abigail Compton | Collegian Media Group)

On June 16, Mayor Usha Reddi officially declared June as Pride Month for the city of Manhattan.

Although Pride can’t be celebrated as usual in the Little Apple due to the ongoing pandemic, LGBTQ+ Manhattan residents are still mindful of it. Sam Sharpe, a non-binary graduate student in biology at Kansas State, said it’s important to know the history behind Pride Month.

“With everything going on in the country today, I think it’s important to step back and remember what started Pride,” Sharpe said. “Pride Month was born out of protesting and riots, and it’s really incredible how far we’ve come as a nation since then.”

Sharpe is referring to the 1969 Stonewall Riots, which began after a gay bar at the Stonewall Inn in NYC was raided by police, and people were arrested for their sexuality.

A majority of the LGBTQ+ people present at the Stonewall police raid were people of color, Sharpe said.

“Without the riots that followed, the queer community would not be where it is today,” they said.

Jared Newell, senior in biology, said it’s important that the queer community supports the Black Lives Matter movement, saying members of the community wouldn’t have reached any level of liberation without black individuals in the community.

“Queer people aren’t important only during Pride month,” Newell said. “We’re still important throughout the whole year. Pride Month also gives us a way to share our culture and differences with people outside the queer community.”

Newell explains how Pride month is a time for people who are often silenced to be able to speak out against oppression and injustice, which can help lead to change.

“We have come very far with equality as a nation, especially within these last ten years,” Newell said. “However, there is still progress to be made, especially with the current administration’s repeal of a section of the Affordable Care Act, which was put in place to protect transgender people.”

This repeal allows for transgender, non-binary and other LGBTQ+ identifying people to face discrimination within the healthcare system based on their sexual or gender identities.

Despite this setback, there have been some recent victories for the LGBTQ+ community. On June 15, the Supreme Court ruled that the 1964 Civil Rights Act protects LGBTQ+ employees from discrimination based on their sexual identity or orientation.

“There’s still a long way for the nation to go in order to fully reach equality in all areas,” Sharpe said. “Something everyone can do to help is just educating yourself on queer issues and racial injustice.”

Numerous organizations at K-State exist to aid LGBTQ+ staff and students, including the LGBT Resource Center, the LGBTQ* Faculty Staff Alliance, the Sexuality and Gender Alliance, the Gender Collective and more. In addition to these campus groups, many LGBTQ+ students are also involved with some community-based organizations, such as Little Apple Pride or the Flint Hills Human Rights Project.

“There’s a lot of ways to support the queer community in Manhattan, or even to just educate yourself more on certain issues,” Newell said. “If everyone does their part, I think that it will help make K-State and Manhattan an even better place.”

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